cbd oil for dogs legal

CBD in Pets

Cannabis use–whether it’s hemp or marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) or medical marijuana—is a gray area when it comes to pets.

The question comes down to federal law versus state rights in many cases, and there is a significant lack of research on animal uses. Federally, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists cannabis and cannabinoid products—under which CBD products fall—as Schedule I controlled substances, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers about purchasing cannabinoid-containing products sold widely across the country and over the Internet.

Only one cannabinoid-containing medication—used to treat pediatric seizures—has been approved by FDA, and only hemp products have been descheduled under the 2018 Farm Bill. Despite these federal rules, however, many states have moved forward with their own laws on recreation and medicinal marijuana, as well as CBD products.

While the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cautions that state laws legalizing cannabis and CBD products for human use do not apply to animals, few states have issued any guidance specific to use of these products in animals.

As these products become more widely available to humans, veterinarians have increasingly faced interest from pet owners about CBD and cannabis products, but AVMA says there is little valid research on the benefits and risks of cannabinoids in animals. AVMA officials acknowledge that there have been limited studies, anecdotal reports, and case studies about therapeutic benefits in pets, and they note that more well-controlled research is needed to make evidence-based recommendations to veterinarians and pet owners. There is also a lot of uncertainty about the products available, whether they are derived from hemp or marijuana, and what concentrations of THC—the psychoactive component of cannabinoids—they contain. This uncertainty adds to concerns about cannabis toxicity, most often observed so far in dogs who were exposed to their pet owners’ cannabis-containing edibles.

At an FDA hearing on food and dietary supplements containing cannabis products in May 2019, Ashley Morgan, DVM, director of the AVMA State Advocacy Division, spoke on behalf of AVMA and said that while there might be therapeutic benefits for pets from cannabis products, there needs to be a clearer regulatory process for products coming to market, and that more research of efficacy and safety are needed. Morgan told dvm360 that the legal landscape for cannabinoid products for pets right now is “extremely complicated.”

“If you can confirm that the CBD product did indeed come from industrial hemp (legal federally under the 2018 Farm Bill), that’s one thing. But right now there’s no good way to do that,” Morgan said. “The product that is currently available is being shipped from state to state.”

Currently, veterinarians are at risk even discussing CBD or cannabis products with pet owners, as veterinary licenses are evaluated at both the state and federal levels. This applies to discussions not only about therapy, but also toxicity.

Gail Golab, DVM, PhD, chief veterinary officer of Scientific Affairs and Public Policy at AVMA, noted that there is some progress being made on the research front, but there only a small number of national studies taking place.

“There just isn’t the research. There’s not a lot of research in the veterinary space out there in total, and there’s even less in the way of studies that have been conducted that are well-designed,” Golab said.

Much of the research, she said, is completely observational, relying on a client’s impression of efficacy, and the veterinarian’s perspective. There has been little objective work done, and Golab cautioned that the placebo effect of cannabis-containing products can be as high as 40%.

Although exactly how cannabis laws aimed at humans applies to pets may be unclear, it can be assumed that pet owners who can purchase CBD in their state for their own use may also decide to use those products on their pets. Golab said with the popularity of cannabinoid-containing products on the human front, there is concern that pet owners may also choose them for their pets over other therapeutic agents with demonstrated efficacy, leading to therapeutic failures as well as potential adverse effective.

Components of cannabis can interfere with some medications and therapies, and veterinarians should exercise caution when pet owners express interest in these products both for the sake of the pets and the veterinarian’s own liability, according to Golab and Morgan.

AVMA officials do not want to discount the potential benefit of cannabis products for pets, Golab said, but there is a lot to consider pending better data.

“The therapeutic potential may be there, we just need to really understand what they do,” Golab noted. “I think the best thing veterinarians can probably do is provide the information and education to their clients. Clients also need to understand the issues with quality control around these products.”

Golab added there are a few companies currently researching animal-specific cannabinoid products and seeking FDA approval, and she believes these endeavors will yield useful data.

To learn how each state is approaching cannabis products, and whether they have addressed animal use, follow the map:

Hype About CBD Oil Use in Pets

In recent months more questions are being asked about using Cannabidiol (CBD) oil in pets for different aliments. I want to start by defining these substances to avoid confusion for pet owners. The two plants that are being grown are called cannabis(marijuana) and hemp. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the hallucinogenic property that differentiates between these two plants. If the plant has more than 0.3% THC in it, that plant is considered cannabis(marijuana) and is illegal in Iowa. If that plant has less than 0.3% THC it is considered hemp. Hemp oil comes from the seeds of the hemp plant. The hemp oil has been called a superfood and has a nutty flavor. It has been used in cooking, soaps, and lotions. CBD oil comes from the flowers, leaves, and stem of the hemp plant. CBD oil is used for its medicinal properties. The current Iowa law allows for medical use of CBD oil for certain aliments in humans but not in animals.

These oils are considered supplements not prescriptions. CBD oils made from hemp and containing less than .3% THC will not have any mind altering effects. The source you get your supplement from must be researched since some products contain “whole hemp extract” not CBD oil. Those products may not contain any CBD oil at all and be completely legal to sell to consumers. We all have heard how unregulated the human supplement market is and these hemp products are no different. BUYER BE AWARE.

In 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law that legalized cultivating and producing industrial hemp containing less than 0.3% THC at institutions of higher learning and State Departments of Agriculture. Since it is legal at the federal level each state must now decide what its regulations will be and how and when to enforce those laws. With this bill in place more research can be done on the health and wellness benefits of these hemp plants. As veterinarians we look forward to the day when we are given clear details on our right and responsibility of prescribing and dispensing these products. Until that day we can discuss the potential benefits being seen within the pet industry, but in Iowa we are not allowed to sell or prescribe the CBD oils.

All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) with receptors built in to interact with cannabinoids naturally produced by the brain but also those derived from plants. When the CBD oils are supplemented to dogs and cats one can see benefits such as:


  • Pain Killer
  • Anti-cancer Effects
  • Antiemetic


  • Appetite Stimulation
  • GI Tract Issues
  • Asthma


  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anticonvulsant
  • Anxiety/stress reliever

Looking at this list one would get the impression that this plant may fix all our pets health issues. This is far from the truth but it certainly indicates that once regulations are removed we may be seeing a steady increase in the use of CBD oil supplements by pet owners. Some veterinarians within the USA are already using these products in a large number of health conditions and I know CBD oils will eventually be encouraged in daily practice. Since there are still legal hurdles in all states around the use of these products you must stay tuned as we continue to learn more about these products in the human and animal markets.

I spoke with a representative at the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA) about prescribing CBD oils. He indicated that the use of CBD oils in all 50 states is illegal in animals at this time. Whether a seller or prescriber of CBD oils is prosecuted is currently a gray zone. At Winterset Veterinary Center we have chosen to wait until more direction is given on the use of the CBD oils in private practice. For each of the above named benefits there are numerous other traditional treatments available to cure or relieve pain and suffering in our patients. We will continue to monitor developments on this hot topic and will keep you informed. Our main concern is the health of our patients and safety of all products that are recommended or prescribed. If you would like more information about this topic feel free to contact me for the information that I received from the IVMA. We welcome your thoughts and comments about this blog or any others that you may have an interest in.